Appalachian Trail from Yellow Mountain Gap to Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains

You can see them from Roan Highlands. They appear when viewed from Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain too. The long, green balds that comprise Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains stick out like limes in a grapefruit basket. And, you can see all those other landmarks from the Hump Mountains. The iconic Appalachian Trail (AT) arrives from the Highlands of Roan to...

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Walking the Cades Cove Loop Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Perhaps the most popular feature in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is a throwback to 19th century living. Think of it as an outdoor museum. Cades Cove is a wide, verdant valley surrounded by mountains that today is teeming with wildlife and spring floral beauty. The 11-mile Loop Road around the valley provides an opportunity for motorists,...

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Elk Mountain Trail, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

Wild, rugged, and weathered — the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in central Oklahoma is a symbol of the old west standing at the threshold of modern times. The natural attractions of the refuge are many and varied. In addition to viewing and photographing wildlife in their natural setting, visitors find the lakes, streams, canyons, mountains and grasslands ideal...

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Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You know how some hikes can be kinda boring, then have a big reward like an outstanding overlook at the end? Or perhaps others will wind through a stunning forest only to peter out? Well, this hike located in the Greenbrier section of the Smokies has neither problem. The Porters Creek Trail is an exciting adventure from start to finish. I would describe it as a play with...

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Upper Muley Twist Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park

Perhaps the best hike in all of Capitol Reef National Park, Upper Muley Twist Canyon is a full-featured Utah adventure that includes narrow canyons, expanses of slickrock, large arches, and dramatic vistas from the top of the incomparable Waterpocket Fold. There are opportunities for side trips to slot canyons and other exciting off-trail experiences, as well as perilous...

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Mountains to Sea Trail Over Blackstock Knob to Balsam Gap, Mt. Mitchell State Park

Hiking among the giants of the East. That’s what you’re doing when you take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Mitchell State Park for this trek on the Mountains to Sea Trail in the Black Mountains. With fabulous views of the Blacks and the Great Craggy Range, and closeup experiences with gnarly old growth fir and spruce krummholz, this stretch of the MtS is some...

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Cataloochee Divide Trail to Hemphill Bald, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Cataloochee Divide Trail follows the eastern national park boundary for 6.4 miles from Cove Creek Gap to a junction with Hemphill Bald Trail. It is then another half-mile climb to the 5,520′ summit of Hemphill Bald. We shaved 4+ miles off the round trip by starting at Purchase Knob rather than Cove Creek Gap. You will pass fabulous views to the east and south...

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Appalachian Trail on Grassy Ridge, Roan Highlands

Located along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, and where Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests merge, Grassy Ridge in the Roan Highlands is the longest stretch of grassy balds in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Trail navigates this stunning ridge, hopping from Carvers Gap to Round Bald to Jane Bald, and on to the 6,169 foot Grassy Ridge Bald. The...

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Appalachian Trail to Max Patch and Buckeye Ridge

Standing guard along the state line, Max Patch Mountain is a grassy bald with fabulous panoramic views of the surrounding North Carolina and Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains. Oh, and by the way, the celebrated Appalachian Trail crosses its 4,629 foot summit. So far as Southern Appalachian summits go, this one is moderately short and easy, but you can make a day of it by...

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Mountains to Sea Trail to Green Mountain Trail, Middle Prong Wilderness

Between mileposts 423 and 424 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Scenic Hwy 215 crosses at Beech Gap. If you head about 1/4 mile north on 215, the famous Mountains to Sea Trail crosses from the Black Balsam area into Middle Prong Wilderness. The MtS winds through an ever-changing forest that runs the gamut of evergreens found in the high country of Western North Carolina. Past...

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Triple Falls, High Falls, Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest

With so much interest in The Hunger Games movie, I thought it was time to head out to DuPont State Forest for a dawn hike to Triple Falls, one of the scenes in the film. Triple Falls is a tiered cascade on the Little River that drops 120 dramatic feet and was also featured in the Last of the Mohicans movie. A photo of Triple Falls was used by the Friends of the Falls...

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Jones Gap Trail and Coldspring Branch Trail Loop, Jones Gap State Park, SC

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in northwestern South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. The Jones Gap Trail follows the Saluda River along an old interstate road built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this backcountry...

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Missouri Lakes Trail, Holy Cross Wilderness

Missouri Lakes Basin in the Holy Cross Wilderness is one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado for hiking and camping that I have experienced. It is an area of lakes and streams filled with trout and large glacial boulders, surrounded by lush forest and tundra, and the gnarly cliffs of the Sawatch Range in the Holy Cross Wilderness. There is some of just about every...

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Chesler Park, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is in the southeastern corner of Utah, near Arches and Dead Horse Point. It is divided into four distinct districts: Island in the Sky, Needles, Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon. The Needles District forms the southeast corner of Canyonlands and was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. The district’s extensive...

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Old Butt Knob and Shining Creek Trails Loop, Shining Rock Wilderness

Perhaps it seems I’ve been spending quite a bit of time hiking in the eastern section of Shining Rock Wilderness in recent months. I can’t help myself. The terrain is wild, the forests ever-changing, the views exhilarating, and the exercise invigorating. The elevation changes dramatically — more than two thousand feet. The air is cool and refreshing...

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Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is in the southwestern corner of Utah, near Zion and Cedar Breaks. Most of the park is above 8000 feet elevation, so the air is clear and the views long. Bryce Canyon is famous for its odd, fanciful geologic formations known as hoodoos and the myriad of color found in the sandstone. The Fairyland Loop Trail is one of the best kept secrets about...

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Longs Peak Trail to Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park in northeast Colorado range from 8,000 feet in the grassy wetlands of the montane, to well above 14,000 feet in its alpine regions. The tallest mountain in the park is Longs Peak at 14,259′. Sitting in a circular basin 2400′ below Longs Peak is Chasm Lake, a mirror of water surrounded by the rocky alpine. More than...

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Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway

Frequently. That is how many times I have done this hike. So many, I’ve lost count. I love the western North Carolina high country, and this area along the Blue Ridge Parkway known as Black Balsam has nearly a dozen peaks over 5,800 feet elevation, with Black Balsam Knob being the highest at 6,214. This area has some of the highest hiking on the Parkway. Many of...

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The Narrows in Zion Canyon, Zion National Park

This hike has a reputation for being one of the best in the country, for good reason. The scenery, the environment, the trail (or lack thereof) are all unique and awe inspiring. You are actually hiking in the Virgin River through what is known as The Narrows in Zion Canyon. Steep sandstone cliffs rise a thousand feet or more on both sides of the river. The colors in the...

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Mt. LeConte via Alum Cave Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the enduring pleasures in the Tennessee portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is scaling the 6,593 feet of beauty that is Mt. LeConte. It isn’t quite the highest mountain in the park, but it is by far the tallest hike from its base. The summit is so popular, there are five distinct trails to the top, varying in distance and difficulty. My...

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Jonas Ridge and Shortoff Trails, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Formal protection of the Linville Gorge began in 1952, when the land was purchased with funds donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. When the Wilderness Act was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Johnson in 1964, the Linville Gorge Wilderness became one of the first formally designated Wilderness areas of the new National Wilderness Preservation System....

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Sam Knob and Little Sam, Blue Ridge Parkway

This hike is in one of my favorite areas of Pisgah National Forest along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. It lies in a little corner between Middle Prong Wilderness and Shining Rock Wilderness where the mountain tops are bald and exceed 6000′. This hike occurred on March 24, 2011 beginning at 10:00AM and ending about 3:00PM. The goal on this day...

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